I am Professor and Chair of the Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. My academic career has been devoted primarily to the study of Cuba and, especially, the Cuban presence in the United States. I hold a Ph.D. in Sociology and Latin American Studies from the University of Florida. For twenty-five years I served on the faculty of Florida International University, where I chaired the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and founded that university’s Cuban Research Institute, which I directed for thirteen years. I also served as the editor of the journal Cuban Studies, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. I have authored numerous publications on Cuba and Cuban Americans, including The Legacy of Exile: Cubans in the United States (with Guillermo Grenier, published by Allyn and Bacon, 2003) and articles in the Journal of Latin American Studies, the Latin American Research Review, the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the International Migration Review, and Cuban Studies. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Miami Herald.
I moved to New York in July 2010 to accept the position at John Jay College and immerse myself in my most recent research project: a history of the Cuban presence in New York in the nineteenth century. I initiated this project in 2004 with support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library. My recent publications from this project include “Cubans in Nineteenth-Century New York: A Story of Sugar, War, and Revolution,” which appeared in Nueva York, 1613-1945, the companion book to the exhibit of the same name organized by the New York Historical Society and displayed at the Museo del Barrio in the Fall of 2010. I also authored the essay “New York City” in the two-volume reference work on Cuba published by Charles Scribner’s and Sons in 2012.
Cuban New Yorker responds to my interest in sharing with an audience beyond academia my observations and reflections from the perspective of someone who knows about Cuba and encounters New York, both as a resident and as a scholar. I may write some things about Cuba, some things about New York, but mostly I will post essays about people, events, and places, now and in the past, in which Cuba and New York come together; in other words, Cuba in New York. I hope to do so with an approach and style that is entertaining and with a content that is original, a blog that people enjoy reading but where they, hopefully, can learn something they did not know before.
A few personal notes, in case they are of interest. I was born in Havana in 1949 and migrated to the U.S. with my parents in 1960. In 1979 I returned to the island for the first time, and have been visiting ever since, most recently in January 2012. I live in Washington Heights with my wife Liza (whose frequent counterpoints to my observations will undoubtedly work their way into one or another posting) and with two black cats, who miss Miami, named Flaqui and Blaqui. You will be glad to know that they will not make their way into any posting. I have cats, but I am not a cat person, if you know what I mean.